Cognitive Impairment and Olfactory Panic From Occupational Exposure to VOCs

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BackgroundA Canadian government clerical worker in her early thirties developed frontal lobe dysfunction from inhalation of volatile organic compounds off-gassed during an office renovation.MethodsPulmonary function, bronchial provocation, allergy testing, and a brain (SPECT) scan were performed.ResultsSPECT scanning showed frontotemporal hypoperfusion and neuropsychologic testing revealed deficits in verbal learning and poor organizational memory.ConclusionsA significant component of this worker's impairment was the development of” olfactory panic,” a debilitating aversion to odor accompanied by symptoms of panic. The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal granted entitlement for her cognitive difficulties and olfactory panic as a result of her toxic exposure.

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